Steering wandering woes - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 37 Old 05-26-2020, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
cj7jeepin
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So I know this topic has been exhausted over and over again. I have read everything multiple times and yet I still can’t figure it out. My Jeep has wandered for the entire ten years I’ve owned it. Originally had a 2” lift when I purchased it. Had the same issue then. I installed a 4” lift nothing changed (as expected). It has 33” Goodyear mt/r that have more then 60k miles on them. They were brand new at the time of purchase . I’ve upgraded the steering box to a remanufactured “j20” box. No difference . Within the last year i have gone through the entire front end. New bearings , new tie rod ends , new drag link , new ball joints. I added 6 degree castor shins (up from my 2 degree stock military ones I found from the Jeep guy). I moved back to stock height shackles mine were half inch over hd shackles. Minimal difference. Basically it’s not safe. I’ve driven it at 70 down the freeway and it wants to swerve into the next lane. It isn’t bump steer , I do have a drop pitman arm from a jk(also the Jeep guy). I’ve thought about shackles reversal (read the pros and cons until my mind wants to implode) might be in the cards. I know lots of ppl say it’s the tires , and that it’s because it’s short wheel base. I get it. But I know there are jeeps and other short wheel base vehicles that are fine. My Jeep doesn’t have a sway bar ( wasn’t on it when I purchased it). Maybe this is part of the problem? I’ve thought about my frame possible not in alignment . I know my rear 20 is bent (got hit) but I also know that it’s not that bad to make it wander the way it does. Also I’m looking for a replacement 20 as mine has been built up. The other thing is I wanted to go up to 35” tire (I know I know ) but when I just did my engine swap / trans swap I moved from a t5 to a t177 and now I’m back to a 1:1 final drive with 4:56 gears and 33” which would scream trying to go 70. Right now as it sits it’s hard to keep in the lanes at 45. I plan on doing tires or shackle reversal and get tires later but honestly I just need it to be safe driving down the road. Still has some slop in the steering box although it was “new”/ remanufactured . I’m kinda to the point where I don’t know what else to do. I did just notice a crack in the steering box mount and I’m going to get a hd more bracket. But the problem has been there long before the crack. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thnx!

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post #2 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 04:06 AM
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In that entire post I didn't see any mention of an alignment. If it is aligned properly and all the steering components are tight and not binding, the Jeep wont wander. Oh and it's not an car, putting a hardtop and doors on a CJ doesn't make it a hyway ride. It's still a CJ, designed to go offroad slowly.
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post #3 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 04:18 AM
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70? OMG

I second the above, you need to get a professional alignment check after you fix the steering mount. Your toe-in could be wrong. You also need to get the jeep lifted off the ground and each wheel given a good shove in all directions, something may be loose or moving even in the rear.

If that steering mount has been cracked for some time, you would notice sudden unexplained changes in direction. Also, it is usually the frame that cracks and that needs welding work before fitting a brace. The brace is not needed in a complete CJ, but it does help if you put on bigger tyres and want to stop the flex and cracking. That it is currently undriveable would be a symptom of a cracked steering box mount flexing.

Do not bother with the reversal, no one else needs it to drive down the road.

It is not the tyres, a lot of us have tyres without swerving between lanes.

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post #4 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 04:39 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ECJ-7 View Post
In that entire post I didn't see any mention of an alignment. If it is aligned properly and all the steering components are tight and not binding, the Jeep wont wander. Oh and it's not an car, putting a hardtop and doors on a CJ doesn't make it a hyway ride. It's still a CJ, designed to go offroad slowly.
Ya I forget things. In everything I’ve done and trying to list / remember them becomes a journey in its self. I set the toe after going through the front end. 1/8” toe in currently. I was going to add some to see if it will help. Everything is “new” and tight minus play in my remanufactured steering box. As far as getting it aligned the couple of places I tried to take it to for a “professional” alignment won’t touch it because they focus on newer cars. Southern California 🤷‍♂️. Honestly the only thing you can change with the alignment is the toe in any way minus shimming for caster.
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post #5 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 04:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BagusJeep View Post
70? OMG [IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/JeepForum_2016/smilies/tango_face_surprise.png[/IMG][IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/JeepForum_2016/smilies/tango_face_surprise.png[/IMG]

I second the above, you need to get a professional alignment check after you fix the steering mount. Your toe-in could be wrong. You also need to get the jeep lifted off the ground and each wheel given a good shove in all directions, something may be loose or moving even in the rear.

If that steering mount has been cracked for some time, you would notice sudden unexplained changes in direction. Also, it is usually the frame that cracks and that needs welding work before fitting a brace. The brace is not needed in a complete CJ, but it does help if you put on bigger tyres and want to stop the flex and cracking. That it is currently undriveable would be a symptom of a cracked steering box mount flexing.

Do not bother with the reversal, no one else needs it to drive down the road.

It is not the tyres, a lot of us have tyres without swerving between lanes.
So it must have cracked relatively recently as I didn’t notice it when I did the steering box or when I went through the front end. And I looked for cracking in it specifically because I’ve read ppl have that issue . And like I said it’s always wandered . The things I’ve done to fix the problem incrementally help but overall not so much.
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post #6 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 05:11 AM
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Question:
Have you done the "wiggle" test?
Is the steering box centered?
Rear axle locker?

Rear axle loose/misaligned?


If everything is tight and there isn't any movement, then you are probably looking at an alignment issue. Caster can be corrected using shims and camber can be adjusted using plates. You need to get it checked. Do you have a Les Schwab tire center close to you? They should be able to run your rig across the rack.

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post #7 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 05:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeepdaddy2000 View Post
Question:
Have you done the "wiggle" test?
Is the steering box centered?
Rear axle locker?

Rear axle loose/misaligned?


If everything is tight and there isn't any movement, then you are probably looking at an alignment issue. Caster can be corrected using shims and camber can be adjusted using plates. You need to get it checked. Do you have a Les Schwab tire center close to you? They should be able to run your rig across the rack.
Steering box is centered. Ill do a wiggle test and triple check tomorrow that everything is tight in the rear end. No locker in the rear. I have 6 degree shims up front bringing my castor in the 6-7 degree range maybe a little more. I’ll call some places to see is they can align it.
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post #8 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 06:40 AM
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If you turn the steering wheel back and forth when the Jeep is parked do you get that “shift” when the frames moves slightly before the wheels do? Long shackles and oversized tires can increase this “shift”.
My basically stock suspension has the “shift” and wanders like yours. My wander is not terrible but I’m always trying to improve my ride quality. I’ve always wondered about making and installing a track bar like YJ’s and newer Jeeps have. The track bar running parallel with the axle and attached to the frame rail should eliminate the “shift” and tighten the steering up. I don’t think it would be very complicated or expensive to fab one and even just temporary install it to see if the steering improves.
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post #9 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 07:26 AM
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Here is my experience with wandering/wobble, whatever ya want to call it. I got my '83 CJ about 7 years ago from my neighbor. I bought it blind as he was in early stages of dementia, i could talk to him and he understood me, but i couldn't understand anything he said. Other then a nod yes, no, or him pointing at something. i knew it hadn't seen the street in awhile, but his daughter would come over, they would jump in and he would do donuts and plow thru the mud in his fields. So, i knew everything pretty much worked. Anyways, got it home. did some minor maintenance stuff. Found out it was a franken jeep, '83 body motor trans, older frame and narrow tracs. Yj steering box with a welded together steering shaft. It's lifted, i would say 2.5 springs and 6' shackles, 33' old tires with like new tread, just beginning of dry rot. It was major hand full at 55-65 mph.Had a flat on the rear, bought 2 new Firestones, put the new on the front and the old on the back, BOOM, major difference. So yes, it can be tires and got two for the rear. Still had wondering issues but no where near what it was. Mine had the beginnings of frame rust and my buddy had a solid '80's frame with wide tracs and steering box in his garage and was like here, take it i'm tired of lookin a it. So, two winters ago, did a frame off, used the NT's because i wanted to redo the WT's, used the CJ steering box, a new Borg shaft, and column bearings. was even better but not close to perfect. This winter i redid the WT's, new bearings, ball joints, Hd TR's with the flip, bearing and solid axle in the rear. OMG like a new jeep. Did the H1 box a few weeks ago, another plus. It was a beautiful day yesterday, topless, cruisin down RT 70, one hand draped over my little 11" steering wheel, puffin on a cig, look down at speedo, and pegged at 85. I live in Maryland, if you ain't doin at least 80 down a highway your getting run over!! So in a nutshell, Yes it can be tires, I have not done an alignment yet, just measured tie rods and made the new ones the same length, so unless i just got lucky and got them perfect.... New Borg shaft and column bearings made a difference, Is there a difference between NT's and WT's? i'm gonna say yes, not fighting big rig ruts like before. Mind you, I'm still on the same old CJ lift springs and 6" shackles. Can i point to any one thing? No, but i tell ya what, it's F'n awesome and proves that Jeeps weren't made to go slow.

I would put the shackle reversal out of your mind, There is a reason the engineers designed it that way. If ya need tires, good starting spot. I would address the "Bent" 20, depending on how bent it is, could be a major issue. Your rear wants to go one way and the front the other... Sorry for the long post and not a lot of answers, but just wanted you to know it can be done!!
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post #10 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 07:39 AM
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Do you have a Firestone? They have good alignment equipment and will do a free check and provide you with a print out of both the font and rear axle specifications. I know that the only adjustment is toe other than shims and special ball joints for caster and camber in the front, but that's not the point. You want to know if the front tracks with the rear and if there is any toe or camber in the rear. Their printout will show you and you will know if your axle is bent or frame is not square. Toe out in the rear will make you think you are on ice and camber will really mess with wide tires on streets with the rutted two tracks.

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post #11 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DV915 View Post
If you turn the steering wheel back and forth when the Jeep is parked do you get that “shift” when the frames moves slightly before the wheels do? Long shackles and oversized tires can increase this “shift”.
My basically stock suspension has the “shift” and wanders like yours. My wander is not terrible but I’m always trying to improve my ride quality. I’ve always wondered about making and installing a track bar like YJ’s and newer Jeeps have. The track bar running parallel with the axle and attached to the frame rail should eliminate the “shift” and tighten the steering up. I don’t think it would be very complicated or expensive to fab one and even just temporary install it to see if the steering improves.
Ya I can see the whole front end shifting over top of the axles . I’m back down to stock shackle torqued to spec. Kinda the theory behind shackle reversal to, so the fixed end is on the front that’s what had me thinking abt it.
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post #12 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MrPeter63 View Post
Here is my experience with wandering/wobble, whatever ya want to call it. I got my '83 CJ about 7 years ago from my neighbor. I bought it blind as he was in early stages of dementia, i could talk to him and he understood me, but i couldn't understand anything he said. Other then a nod yes, no, or him pointing at something. i knew it hadn't seen the street in awhile, but his daughter would come over, they would jump in and he would do donuts and plow thru the mud in his fields. So, i knew everything pretty much worked. Anyways, got it home. did some minor maintenance stuff. Found out it was a franken jeep, '83 body motor trans, older frame and narrow tracs. Yj steering box with a welded together steering shaft. It's lifted, i would say 2.5 springs and 6' shackles, 33' old tires with like new tread, just beginning of dry rot. It was major hand full at 55-65 mph.Had a flat on the rear, bought 2 new Firestones, put the new on the front and the old on the back, BOOM, major difference. So yes, it can be tires and got two for the rear. Still had wondering issues but no where near what it was. Mine had the beginnings of frame rust and my buddy had a solid '80's frame with wide tracs and steering box in his garage and was like here, take it i'm tired of lookin a it. So, two winters ago, did a frame off, used the NT's because i wanted to redo the WT's, used the CJ steering box, a new Borg shaft, and column bearings. was even better but not close to perfect. This winter i redid the WT's, new bearings, ball joints, Hd TR's with the flip, bearing and solid axle in the rear. OMG like a new jeep. Did the H1 box a few weeks ago, another plus. It was a beautiful day yesterday, topless, cruisin down RT 70, one hand draped over my little 11" steering wheel, puffin on a cig, look down at speedo, and pegged at 85. I live in Maryland, if you ain't doin at least 80 down a highway your getting run over!! So in a nutshell, Yes it can be tires, I have not done an alignment yet, just measured tie rods and made the new ones the same length, so unless i just got lucky and got them perfect.... New Borg shaft and column bearings made a difference, Is there a difference between NT's and WT's? i'm gonna say yes, not fighting big rig ruts like before. Mind you, I'm still on the same old CJ lift springs and 6" shackles. Can i point to any one thing? No, but i tell ya what, it's F'n awesome and proves that Jeeps weren't made to go slow.

I would put the shackle reversal out of your mind, There is a reason the engineers designed it that way. If ya need tires, good starting spot. I would address the "Bent" 20, depending on how bent it is, could be a major issue. Your rear wants to go one way and the front the other... Sorry for the long post and not a lot of answers, but just wanted you to know it can be done!!
Awesome story, glad to know it can get there. I’m lucky enough my frame is isn’t rotted , in-fact the whole Jeep was basically stock engine trans wiring etc when I got it. There are little things that were done though that make me wonder what the po did prior to the person I bought it from. Like aftermarket rear dif cover , cut out rear fenders to fit tj flares , color matched poison spider flat fenders , 4.56 gears etc , makes me wonder what else was done. I suppose I should say too that everything I’ve done did improve things but no one thing was very drastic. I do have leaky valve stems on both passenger tires so I’m sure that doesn’t help. It does follow the ruts for sure . It has wide tracks thought abt adding some spacers or rims to widen the track a little more too. Just got to find the most important thing To get done first. Probably the tires 🙃 wanted to see if anyone had any obvious things that I might have overlooked. Thnx!
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post #13 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Supraquick View Post
Do you have a Firestone? They have good alignment equipment and will do a free check and provide you with a print out of both the font and rear axle specifications. I know that the only adjustment is toe other than shims and special ball joints for caster and camber in the front, but that's not the point. You want to know if the front tracks with the rear and if there is any toe or camber in the rear. Their printout will show you and you will know if your axle is bent or frame is not square. Toe out in the rear will make you think you are on ice and camber will really mess with wide tires on streets with the rutted two tracks.
For sure , there is one relatively close. I’ll give them a call. And ya I understand what your saying. After I went through the front end I took it to a couple places and they wouldn’t even touch it and I got frustrated lol. Something abt older cars here ppl just shut you down and it pissed me off at the time. All I wanted was the print out too just to verify what was actually going on. thanks for your insight.
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post #14 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 04:17 PM
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hello

first off you need a good alignment and get the sheet. there is more then a toe and go on a cj. you are guessing where your castor is. you have no real number. you dont know where your camber is. and yes it is adjustable. there is a couple of ways to adjust it. there is a special sleeve that is used with the balljoint,or there is the shims that go between the spindle and the knuckle. you really cant get a good toe align unless you are using a rack.
how are all your bushings in the springs?
did you tighten the suspension while it was on the ground?
what type of bushings do you have in the suspension?
what type of shocks and are they in good condition?
have you actually looked at the shackle hangers that bolt to the frame? they have been known to crack.
what lift do you have? are the springs a stiff or softer spring rate.
you have alot of milage on the tires. is there any evidence of cupping or odd wear on them.
when you changed your steering box did you overhaul the steering column or the coupler that attaches to the steering box? the coupler wasnt the greatest design. the bearings in the column are probably original so over 30 years and there is plastic parts in them.
to check the ball joints did you do the drag torque check in the FSM? where you measure the torque it takes to turn the knuckles on the axle.
is all the suspension hardware been torqued with a torque wrench that is in or even close to calibration? the german torque of goodentight doesn't work well. its amazing to see people think something is tight then go behind with a torque wrench and get a quarter of a turn.

did you take it a high speed on a road that is smooth as a baby butt? like mine you have a short wheelbase on short leaf springs that is lifted on a set of 33's. do you know about how high your center of gravity is? its between the floor and the bottom of your seat. its a utility vehicle that was designed to be alot lower on smaller tires and drive at 55mph. that was the speed limit when the last one rolled of the floor. they are made to go anywhere but not fast.

oldschool
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post #15 of 37 Old 05-27-2020, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by oldschool74cj5 View Post
hello

first off you need a good alignment and get the sheet. there is more then a toe and go on a cj. you are guessing where your castor is. you have no real number. you dont know where your camber is. and yes it is adjustable. there is a couple of ways to adjust it. there is a special sleeve that is used with the balljoint,or there is the shims that go between the spindle and the knuckle. you really cant get a good toe align unless you are using a rack.
how are all your bushings in the springs?
did you tighten the suspension while it was on the ground?
what type of bushings do you have in the suspension?
what type of shocks and are they in good condition?
have you actually looked at the shackle hangers that bolt to the frame? they have been known to crack.
what lift do you have? are the springs a stiff or softer spring rate.
you have alot of milage on the tires. is there any evidence of cupping or odd wear on them.
when you changed your steering box did you overhaul the steering column or the coupler that attaches to the steering box? the coupler wasnt the greatest design. the bearings in the column are probably original so over 30 years and there is plastic parts in them.
to check the ball joints did you do the drag torque check in the FSM? where you measure the torque it takes to turn the knuckles on the axle.
is all the suspension hardware been torqued with a torque wrench that is in or even close to calibration? the german torque of goodentight doesn't work well. its amazing to see people think something is tight then go behind with a torque wrench and get a quarter of a turn.

did you take it a high speed on a road that is smooth as a baby butt? like mine you have a short wheelbase on short leaf springs that is lifted on a set of 33's. do you know about how high your center of gravity is? its between the floor and the bottom of your seat. its a utility vehicle that was designed to be alot lower on smaller tires and drive at 55mph. that was the speed limit when the last one rolled of the floor. they are made to go anywhere but not fast.

oldschool
I’m checking caster with a angle finder so I have a good estimation. I know it’s not a laser but it’s good enough of an estimation for me to go with 6 degree caster shims. Bushings in the springs look good, poly urethane. But they are old. No cracking or anything . All the shackles are brand new oem style bushing are new with them. Shocks seem fine but they are old as well everything came with the lift kit , has maybe 5 or so years on them. It was a pro comp lift. On the softer side. Shackles hangers are fine and not cracked and were replaced when I did the steering box. The tires are pretty much trash. There is odd wear / cupping going on that’s why it was the top of my list to replace them. I had hd shackles with the wrong hangers so the bushings didn’t fit right for along time that was a big difference when changing back to stock size shackles. Steering column is the stock one , I’ve thought abt replacing it but it doesn’t have play in the u joint etc , and the coupler assembly got changed out for the j20 box so all of that is new. I did drag check the ball joints prior to replacing them. They were all either completely seized or floppy with zero resistance. Everything is torqued to spec. i always look up torque specs and torque accordingly. I’m well aware of what a Jeep was designed to do and I said 70 as a worse case scenario. I also said it’s hard to keep in the lanes at 45 😂. but I digress. Everything I’ve done incrementally helps but nothing made a giant difference. That’s why I talk abt shackle reversal or tires. I know I need tires. I guess I just am afraid that tires are also not going to make a huge difference and I’ll be back to square one.
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